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Biden Will Also Understand During His Visit: The Palestinian Leadership Isn’t a Real Partner
Joe Biden (left), at the time vice president of the US, reviews a guard of honor in Ramallah alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in March 2010. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Biden Will Also Understand During His Visit: The Palestinian Leadership Isn’t a Real Partner

Ma’ariv, Israel, June 14

In recent days it has been reported that the Palestinian Authority has been exerting heavy pressure on the US administration to grant it a “meaningful gesture” during President Biden’s upcoming visit to the region. It is difficult to envision the Palestinian Authority “exerting pressure” on the United States, but in the meantime, the presidential visit that should have also included Saudi Arabia has been postponed – partially because of the collapsing government in Israel, and partially due to opposition coming from large parts of the Democratic Party that oppose the warming of ties with Saudi Arabia. Of course, Israel also has an inherent interest in the de-escalation of the crisis between Washington and Riyadh, both because it seeks to establish diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia on a more regular and transparent basis, and because it hopes to strengthen the regional front against Iran. The Palestinian issue will not be at the center of the planned visit, but presumably the president will, indeed, be required to make certain gestures toward the Palestinians in order to please the left wing of the Democratic Party, whose hostility to Israel has become a prominent political agenda. Such a gesture could take the form of Biden’s visit to the Arab Hospital in east Jerusalem, the reopening of the PLO mission in Washington, or the opening of a separate American consulate in East Jerusalem – an act whose practical and legal significance would be the reversal of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The current divided and faltering collection – often referred to as the “coalition of change”– probably doesn’t have the political backbone and intellectual capacity to deal with most of the challenges facing the State of Israel. Israel isn’t the most burning issue on the global agenda, and the global crisis surrounding the war in Ukraine, the growing confrontation between two competing conceptions of world order and the threat of a global economic crisis, emphasize this more than ever before. But even with regard to the Palestinian issue that directly concerns us, there is confusion, lack of understanding and a lack of guidelines. Those on the left, who claim that Israel is to blame for not achieving peace, ignore, knowingly or not, the fundamental fact that all Palestinian factions, no matter how liberal, demand the Right of Return. Everything else, including a two-state solution, is nothing but an intermediate means of fulfilling this ambition. Moreover, the establishment of a Palestinian state now means not only a state controlled by Hamas or other extremists, but also the bringing of Iran to our eastern border, a threat to the continued existence of Jordan, and a constant wave of wars. The Israeli negotiators of the Oslo Accords ignored this fact, paved the way to the birth of the PLO led by Yasser Arafat, and thereby established the ideological and practical cohesion between the Palestinian diaspora and residents of the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has mainly ideological and non-territorial roots, is not the only national conflict in the world that has not been resolved. That said, there are ways to lower the flames of violence, ensure Israel’s security, and promote our national interests. There is currently no partner for peace on the Palestinian side, so the current status quo will probably continue – and that should be the only message that President Biden, if he does end up visiting the region, should take back with him to Washington. – Zalman Shoval (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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